05th Sep2014

Nat attack!

by TH

The ‘No Thanks’ campaign HQ in Cathcart has become the latest target of nationalist thugs aiming to silence any dissenting voices.

‘No Thanks’ banners were ripped down from the shop in Langside Place, Langside, last night.

Local MP Tom Harris said: “No doubt there will be Yes supporters who, instead of condemning this latest act of vandalism and intimidation, will complain about the finger of blame being pointed at Nationalists. Yet this is a very typical example of how they react to anyone who dares express a different point of view from them.

“It makes me genuinely worried about what kind of society an independent Scotland would be. Alex Salmond is keen to have a written constitution for an independent Scotland, but so far I’ve not heard anyone in the Yes camp pledge to include freedom of expression. I think I can see why.

“Meanwhile, nationalist cheerleaders in the media will no doubt use the ‘Jim Murphy Excuse’; when Jim was forced to pause his “100 Streets” speaking tour because of nationalist intimidation, separatists, including well known former journalists, criticised him for provoking that intimidation by daring to defend the Union in public. No doubt those same voices will look at what’s happened to our campaign HQ and suggest that we might have avoided this attack if we hadn’t dared to open it in the first place.

“If I’m honest, I’m a bit surprised it took them three days to target the shop – I expected them to attack us on the first night we were open. I think they’re slipping,” Tom added.

A Nationalist asks for support on September 18

02nd Sep2014

Cathcart ‘No Thanks’ shop open for business!

by TH

East Renfrewshire MP Jim Murphy performed the honours at the opening of the new “No Thanks” HQ in Cathcart yesterday.

The shop, at 34 Langside Place, will serve as the base for the local “No Thanks” campaign between now and September 18. Jim, who is also the Shadow International Development Secretary, came along to offer some words of encouragement to supporters before restarting his “100 Streets in 100 Days” speaking tour, which had been put on hold because of intimidation by nationalist thugs.

He told the crowd: “This referendum is not like an election, where you can vote in a government and then change your mind a few years later. It is the single most important vote of my lifetime, of any of our lifetimes, more important than any election where Tom and I have been candidates.”

In introducing Jim, Tom said: “I have been proud to stand beside Jim as he makes his soapbox appeal to ordinary voters, only to have him drowned out by people who hate the idea of free speech. It says a great deal that Jim, the man who set aside his own personal safety to run into the Clutha to help the injured immediately after the helicopter crash, is called a ‘coward’ by nationalists.”

Afterwards Tom added: “There was a really great turnout, and already we have had a lot of visitors popping into the shop to offer their support, people who are desperately worried about the nationalists’ attempt to split up our country. With their help, those plans will fail.”

28th Aug2014

Pensioners’ centre regenerates!

by TH

Tom with Lord Provost Sadie Docherty and Councillor Malcolm Cunning (far right), former Glasgow Provost, Pat Lally (far left), and centre manager Melanie O'Donnell

Tom Harris MP was among the guests who welcomed Glasgow’s Lord Provost, Councillor Sadie Docherty, to formally open the new Senior Centre in Castlemilk’s Dougrie Drive earlier today.

The new centre replaces the previous location in the same road, which was used by older citizens for many years but which had become dilapidated. The new centre, funded by Glasgow City Council, features a new, spacious and bright eating and social area as well as a TV room, a games room and a computer suite.

“It really is a fantastic resource, said Tom. “I have fond memories of the old place, as do many of its regular members. But it really was reaching its sell-by date. The local councillors in the area, particularly the Provost and Councillor Malcolm Cunning, have done a marvellous job in championing the cause of a new, state-of-the-art centre.”

14th Aug2014

Kingswood takes home the silver

by TH

Helen McMurdo of Kingswood Bowling Club accepts the cup from Carolyn

Kingswood bowlers returned home with the silver once again after being handed the annual “Mrs Harris Trophy”.

The ladies’ team were presented with the cup by the competition sponsor, Carolyn Harris, who founded the contest as a balance to the long-running men’s Parliamentary Trophy, sponsored by her husband, the Glasgow South MP, Tom Harris.

The trophy was accepted by Helen McMurdo, a former Ladies President at the King’s Park club. This was the second year in a row that the club has won the Mrs Harris trophy.

Carolyn said: “It was a lovely event and I’m so grateful to all the women from clubs throughout the constituency who took part in this year’s competition. There was a great atmosphere and Kingswood were worthy winners.”

09th Aug2014

Wales says ‘No Thanks!’

by TH

Kevin (front row, second from right) and local MP Tom Harris hold the Welsh national flag at the start of campaigning in Cathcart

Shadow Schools Minister Kevin Brennan joined the “No Thanks” campaign in Cathcart today, offering solidarity with his Welsh constituents.

Kevin, who represents Cardiff West in the House of Commons, is a strong supporter of the campaign to prevent the break up of the UK. He said: “It was great to be out on the doorstep in Cathcart this morning, and to meet other members of the No Thanks campaign. We had a great reception on the doorstep.”

Members of Cathcart Labour Party have been campaigning for a No vote in the referendum every week since August 2011.

03rd Aug2014

Remembering the fallen

by TH

Polllokshaws war memorial

A century after the start of World War I, citizens of Pollokshaws gathered in the rain this afternoon to pay tribute to local men who died in the conflict.

Local MP Tom Harris formally welcomed the crowd to Pollokshaws Burgh Hall, where the recently-restored war memorial was rededicated in a multi-denominational service.

The event was organised by Pollokshaws resident and former councillor, Colin Deans.

The full text of Tom’s speech:


26th Jul2014

Reaching out at Ramadhan

by TH

Left to right: Bailie Hanif Rajah, Councillor Norman MacLeod, Imam Shoal Hussain, Tom Harris MP, Councillor Jahangir Hanif, Shokat Sultan of the Muslim Council of Scotland, and Habib Hussain

Local Muslims opened their doors to the wider community this week, inviting local people to join them in Dixon Avenue mosque to find out more about the religion.

Among those who accepted the invitation were Glasgow South MP Tom Harris and Pollokshields councillor, Norman MacLeod.

Tom said: “It was a fascinating experience, and Norman and I were made to feel extremely welcome. it was an honour to eat with the congregation, just a few days before the end of Ramadhan, and to understand the importance of this annual month of observance to followers of Islam.

“It is so important that Muslims and non-Muslims alike make an effort to understand each others’ views, values and motivations.”


25th Jul2014

Signposts to heroes’ resting places

by TH

Tom (right) and iain Anderson of the CWGC pay a visit to the Cathcart Parish Churchyard

Southside MP Tom Harris took time out today to see for himself the graves where fallen Commonwealth soldiers are buried in his constituency.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission is offering the opportunity to every MP to visit the graves, where new signage has been recently erected. There are only four such sites in the Glasgow South constituency.

Tom was accompanied by Iain Anderson of the Commission.

The Commission make sure that soldiers’ graves are properly tended to and remain tidy, often stepping in where local churches or local authorities have allowed the grass to obscure the details on the headstones. T

They commemorate the 1,700,000 men and women of the Commonwealth forces who died in the two world wars. Their cemeteries, burial plots and memorials are a lasting tribute to those who died in some 153 countries across the world.

The CWGC register records details of Commonwealth war dead so that graves or names on memorials can be located.

Tom said: “The work the Commission carries out is so valuable and important to our family of nations. The visits today to sites around my constituency was a truly humbling and profound experience. And it was timed appropriately, given the imminent commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I.”


23rd Jul2014

Harris calls for Gaza ceasefire

by TH

Tom Harris has called for an “urgent ceasefire” in Gaza and “an end to the pattern of rocket attacks and periodic occupation that has left both sides living in fear.”

And the Glasgow South MP called for a full international inquiry into claims that Hamas have used “human shields” to conceal their weaponry, deliberately increasing the number of Palestinian civilian casualties for propaganda purposes.

He made the comments in a letter to constituents who have contacted him to express their concern at the recent renewed fighting between Israel and Hamas militants.

Tom wrote:

Thank you for contacting me recently regarding the continuing violence in Gaza and southern Israel.

I share your grave concern about this crisis and at the spiral of violence we have seen over the last fortnight. As ever, it is the civilian population that is suffering most from this conflict and it is now vital that both sides call a lasting ceasefire and work toward a peaceful, negotiated settlement.

More than 1850 rockets have been fired at Israel from Gaza in the last fortnight, which is an intolerable situation for any government. Hamas’s main aim seems to be to provoke an Israeli backlash and the negative publicity such a backlash would incur for them.

The scale of the suffering in Gaza – which has already cost more than 580 Palestinian lives, most of whom are civilians and many of whom are innocent children – is also unacceptable and risks fuelling yet more extremism and conflict.

The people of Israel have a right to live without fear for their security, just as the people of Gaza have a right to live in peace. However, I believe the escalation we have seen in recent days has served only to bring more suffering to Palestinians and will make it harder to bring about lasting security.

That is why there now needs to be an urgent ceasefire and an end to the pattern of rocket attacks and periodic occupation that has left both sides living in fear.

However, I reject the allegation that Israel is collectively punishing Palestinians. How likely is it that a liberal democracy such as Israel, dependent on international support, would deliberately target innocent civilians? And how much more likely is it that Hamas, recognised across the world and in the UK as a terrorist organisation, which has carried out a horrific number of political executions among its own people, has – as has been widely reported – been hiding its weaponry behind human shields in hospitals and schools?

Surely what is needed is a full investigation into whether these reports are true.

Ultimately, there can be no military solution to this problem and it is only by politics and negotiation that lasting peace can be achieved. I call on Hamas to now stop their rocket attacks, for Israel to end its military operation in Gaza and for both sides to recognise the need to return to negotiations on a wider political settlement.

I also hope that the UK Government continue to work with the United Nations and our international allies to achieve a lasting ceasefire.

Thank you once again for writing to me and for sharing your views. I can assure you that I will continue to bear them in mind as this crisis develops.



10th Jul2014

Going nuclear

by TH

On site at Sellafield (left to right): Tom Harris MP, Adrian Bailey MP, Bridget Phillipson MP, Baroness Prosser, Ian Mearns MP and Robin Walker MP

Glasgow South MP Tom Harris saw at first hand the challenges facing the nuclear power industry when he joined colleagues on a fact-finding visit to Selllafield nuclear processing plant in Cumbria today.

The site employs over 10,000 people, who are engaged in waste management, decommissioning and construction. The cross-party visit by MPs and peers involved a briefing on the key activities and a tour of some of the major legacy sites, including the Pile Fuel Storage Pond Facility. This was an opportunity for parliamentarians to see at first hand the challenges created by the original nuclear reactors that were built at Sellafield in the 1950s and 60s, that didn’t consider the future clean-up of the nuclear material and waste as the reactors came off-line.

In addition to the discussion around the technical challenges faced at Sellafield, attendees also discussed the contributions that the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA), Nuclear Management Partners (NMP) and Sellafield Ltd are making to economic regeneration in Cumbria, particularly in relation to skills and building capacity for future nuclear activities in the area.

The high-level skills required by companies like Sellafield Ltd are a key problem for the future of UK industry and therefore require substantial investment in skills to ensure the continued success of those businesses in the long-term. This is particularly the case for the nuclear industry and in West Cumbria and the parliamentarians were able to discuss the important contribution Sellafield Ltd is making in expanding its apprenticeship programme and providing continued opportunities for young people.

Tom said: “This was a fascinating visit and I’m grateful to Sellafield Ltd and the Industry and Parliament Trust (IPT) for making sure it happened. Everyone knows the name ‘Sellafield’ but few people are aware of exactly what happens there, the professionalism of the workers there and the vital role it plays in the nuclear power generation industry of the UK.”

The civil nuclear industry founded at the site in the years after the end of the Second World War was a by-product of Britain’s early attempts to create its own nuclear deterrent.

02nd Jul2014

‘Scrap VAT on eBooks’

by TH

The government risks damaging the publishing industry by applying VAT unfairly on eBooks while exempting physical hard copies from the same tax.

In an adjournment debate in the House of Commons today, Glasgow South MP Tom Harris warned that changes to how VAT is levied, which come into force in January, could stifle the recent growth in the sale of eBooks for reading on electronic devices like Kindles and iPads.

Currently customers pay the level of tax that applies in the country from where an eBook is sold. That means that those who buy a book on Amazon’s Kindle store, for example, pay the three per cent level of VAT that applies in Luxembourg. But from the beginning of 2015, VAT in EU countries must be levied in the country where the buyer lives. So British customers will see the price of books rocket by up to 20 per cent.

Tom told Treasury minister Andrea Leadsom that buyers are very sensitive to marginal cost increases. He said: “Ofcom research shows that the willingness to pay for a single book download declines steadily as the proposed price of a book download increases. The average price that respondents were willing to pay was £3.74. About 42 per cent of people were willing to buy an e-book at £5. Once VAT at 20 per cent was added, bringing the cost up to £6, the proportion of consumers willing to buy it fell dramatically to 28 per cent.”

And he added: “E-books are a British success story and have helped to drive the recovery of the UK publishing industry since the financial crisis of 2008. Consumers in the UK are already the biggest e-commerce spenders in the world, and have been fastest in the EU to embrace e-books, partly because of the huge choice of English language books, partly because of competition and choice in e-book readers, and in large part because of the price competitiveness of e-books. That has brought big new opportunities to readers, writers and publishers.

“Do the Government still accept that we should promote reading and literacy and do all in our power to widen reading and literacy? I know, of course, that the genuine answer from the Minister will be yes, but should we not therefore widen our support for print books to their digital equivalent? Are the Government willing to engage with the European Commission to hasten the completion of its impact study assessment of options to reform EU VAT rules, including those affecting VAT on e-books? Should the Government not be standing up to Europe and following the examples of France, Germany and Luxembourg by insisting on a substantially lower rate of VAT on e-books? This is one area where I would like to see a race to the bottom. I want the Government parties and my own party competing in the next few months leading up to the general election to see who can offer the lowest rate of VAT on e-books, because consumers, readers and authors, not politicians, would emerge the winners.”

Read the full transcript of Tom’s speech here. Watch the video of the debate here.

25th Jun2014

Crossrail revisited

by TH

Former minister for the multi-billion pounds Crossrail project, Tom Harris, was invited to inspect progress at a central London site today.

Tom was one of a number of former transport ministers invited to take a trip deep below the surface of city streets to see for themselves how much progress has been made on the £15 billion scheme, which will deliver a high frequency, high capacity service to 40 stations, linking Reading and Heathrow in the west, to Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the east via 21 km of new twin-bore tunnels under central London.  It will bring an additional 1.5 million people within 45 minutes’ commuting distance of London’s key business districts.

Crossrail is the largest infrastructure project in Europe and it’s estimated it will bring economic benefits worth £42 billion to the whole of the UK in the 30 years after construction is completed in 2018.

Tom was the Minister charged with taking the Crossrail Bill through its final parliamentary stages to Royal Assent in 2008.

He said: “It’s hard to believe the scale of this project until you see it up close. I remember when I was first briefed about Crossrail, refusing to believe that a project of this scale and ambition could be successfully completed on time, or even at all! But it is testament to the outstanding skills of the engineers involved that half of the tunnels have already been completed.

“Crossrail will be an outstanding addition to the infrastructure of our capital city and I can’t wait to see the first trains use it in 2018.”

21st May2014

Campaigning for a Labour Europe

by TH

Cathcart Labour Party played host to all of Labour’s six European parliamentary candidates this afternoon, as the nationwide campaign draws to a close.

Glasgow South MP Tom Harris and local activists joined sitting MEPs David Martin and Catherine Stihler along with the other four list candidates – Derek Munn, Katrina Murray, Asim Khan and Kirsty O’Brien.

Tom said: “It was a real pleasure welcoming all six of Labour’s Euro candidates here to Cathcart. We have a truly impressive range of candidates, as well as two of the most experienced and able sitting MEPs in Scotland. We got a lot of doors knocked and a lot of Labour promises recorded. It’s vital that we get Labour’s positive message across in the few hours left until polls open tomorrow.”

25th Apr2014

Shadow Cabinet’s ‘Better Together’ message

by TH

Senior Shadow Cabinet members were in Cathcart today to persuade local voters to stick with the UK.

Chief Whip Rosie Winterton, her Lords Opposite number, Steve Bassam, and Shadow Housing Minister Emma Reynolds were welcomed to the constituency by local MP Tom Harris and a team of Better Together activists, who joined them to knock on doors in the Braehead area.

“Colleagues representing English and Welsh seats work together with Scotland’s parliamentarians at Westminster every day for the benefit of the whole country,” said Tom.

“It was fantastic to see them take to the streets of Cathcart to explain the importance of defeating the separatists’ plans to break up our country.”